“What Is the Purpose of Lent?”

I’m in the NYT “Room for Debate,” w/John Corvino, Rod Dreher, Maria Scaperlanda, & Patrick & Charlotte Markey.

…But if all of that leaves you cold — if you feel like you don’t “get anything” from Lent — your experience may actually be the most thoroughly Christian response possible. Because Lent isn’t a self-improvement project, even a spiritual self-improvement project. It isn’t a diet or a life beautification regime.

Lent is a promise to walk with Jesus even into the desert. It is a trusting willingness to put our hand in his at all times, no matter what it requires, to go with him into the wilderness or onto the cross. Lent is about our relationship with Christ; and that relationship, like our ordinary relationships with other people, has seasons of trial and deprivation as well as seasons of joy. Lent allows us to say “yes” to all those seasons. It echoes Ruth’s pledge to her mother-in-law, Naomi: “Whither thou goest, I will go.”

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